Wage Garnishment

legal-main_Full.30653934_stdGarnishment is a means by which a judgment creditor (garnishor) my seize assets of a judgment debtor in the possession of or controlled by a third party (garnishee), in order to satisfy a judgment debt. When the garnishee is debtor’s employer, the process is called Wage Garnishment and the money owed to the debtor is his or her salary or wages.
U. S. and Missouri law limit the amount of wages that may be garnished from any single paycheck in satisfaction of most* debts, to the extent that the lesser of the following may be garnished:

  • 25% of disposable income, defined as income remaining after legally required deductions and only legally required deductions, like FICA, Federal Withholding, and State Withholding taken from a person’s salary; or
  • The amount which a debtor’s weekly income exceeds 30 times the minimum wage; or
  • If debtor is the Head of Household, only 10% of their non-exempt disposable income can be garnished. For the primary or sole wage earner of a family, 90% of his or her income is protected from garnishment.
  • The 25% and 10% of income as described in the 1st and 3rd bullets above refers to the maximum amount of income that can be garnished from any single paycheck, no matter how many judgment creditors.

Getting Legal Help

As alluded to above, it’s difficult to challenge the debt itself at the late date of the garnishment—that should have been resolved during the earlier litigation which resulted in the creditor’s judgment. However, that does not mean that the debtor cannot fight or challenge the garnishment. Even without re-trying the earlier case, it can still dispute garnishment on the following grounds:

  • Mistake—the creditor has named the wrong person, or has the amount of the debt wrong
  • Statute of limitations—the debt or the judgment is too old
  • Procedure—either in granting the original judgment or in the current garnishment, the creditor has not followed proper legal process (especially process pertaining to putting the debtor on notice of the claims against it)
  • Disposable income—it may be possible to show that much of the debtor’s income is exempt, and therefore there is less disposable income available to garnish

A lawyer can be very helpful to a debtor, in challenging garnishment on what primarily amount to legal procedural grounds.  Contact Brody & Cornwell today for a free consultation.